The Board of Governors on Thursday recognized Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues as 2018 State University System Legislative Champions.
President Negron prioritized the Higher Education Excellence Act, which was sponsored by President-designate Bill Galvano and Leader Rodrigues, increasing access and affordability, supporting important research, and raising the national prominence of the State University System. President Negron, Speaker Corcoran, President-designate Galvano, and Leader Rodrigues were also recognized for their support of performance funding, which has resulted in across-the-board improvements in service to students.
“Our Legislative Champions have demonstrated a clear passion for higher education and passed smart policy that will benefit our students for years to come,” said Ned Lautenbach, chair of the Board of Governors. “We are pleased for this opportunity to show our appreciation.”
President Negron said, “From April 2016, when the Florida Senate bus tour visited all 12 university campuses, until March 2018, when SB 4 was signed into law by Governor Scott, the Board of Governors has been there every step of the way. My goal is for Florida universities to become national elite destination universities like the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I also want every student in Florida to be able to attend the university to which she or he has been admitted, regardless of their financial background.
Chancellor Criser and the Board of Governors have worked diligently to support our successful effort to secure both the permanent expansion of Bright Futures for the nearly 100,000 students who have earned this scholarship and a dramatic increase in need-based aid. We have also substantially enhanced the funding of our medical, law and business graduate schools. As a result of these joint efforts, I am confident we will see more Florida students complete degree programs on-time, and then graduate with competitive job offers in a growing economy.”
“As demonstrated by the newly released data, Florida’s universities are on an upward trajectory with regard to graduation rates and a number of other important accountability measures,” said Speaker Corcoran. “Performance funding works and is a highly effective driver of this success.”
“The State University System of Florida is one of the best in the nation,” Leader Rodrigues said. “It is an honor to partner with them on legislation to invest more in financial aid and target better outcomes for students.”
The award, in its inaugural year, is designed to thank elected leaders who use their platform to benefit State University System students. Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano has also been designated a 2018 State University System champion and will also be presented with an award at a later date. Additionally, the Board of Governors will present a separate award to Governor Rick Scott, whose focus on university affordability and quality over the past eight years resulted in U.S. News & World Report naming Florida as the best state in the country for higher education for two years in a row.
“Florida is fortunate to have elected leaders who have truly prioritized higher education, and the State University System is seeing the results of that commitment,” said Syd Kitson, the Board of Governors vice chair. “We look forward to building on our accomplishments and working with our elected leaders to take our universities to the next level.”